BALITANG BETERANO: FIL-AM VETS STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE, FAIRNESS
MANILA, May 28, 2004 (STAR) By Col.(Ret.) Frank B. Quesada, Former Senate Committee Secretary Veterans and Military Pension, Associate, PMA ‘44 - (Modified) In response to many queries from Fil-Am WW-II veterans and the public, on war veteran’s matters, here are some vital information to their questions as regards to Fil-Am veteran’s struggle for justice and fairness.
This will also familiarize my cavaliers, some of them were World War II veterans, and those whose parents saw how the Stars and Stripes was hurled down by the triumphant Japanese Forces that invaded the Philippines in 1941.
This, however, included some rough edges of lopsided Fil-Am relationship – if the truth must be told.
Re: Matter of how Filipinos were involved in America’s war against Japan.? And why American politicians wanted the Philippines as its colony?
The Philippine Islands became a Commonwealth of he U.S. ( a colony or a protectorate of the U.S.) by virtue, and under the terms and conditions of the Treaty of Paris.
Spain ceded the Philippines to the U.S. after it he defeat of Spain by Filipino freedom founders ( the revolucionarios) that vanquished the Spaniards after 300 hundred years of abuse and cupidity.
Consequently, in 1998 - U.S. Admiral G. Dewey, an enterprising hustler intervened as an alien broker, who convinced the Spaniards to surrender to the itinerant U.S. forces instead. But not to Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, after a mock battle staged by Dewey to justify a U.S. scheme - even though President E. Aguinaldo had already established a Philippine Republic earlier that had sovereignty over the islands, and over the vanquished Spaniards. Cowering Spaniards dreaded to surrender to Filipinos to suffer reprisal under the blow of Filipino unforgiving retaliation.. A shaman, Dewey therefore had suckered trusting Gen.E. Aguinaldo into a sham surrender of the Spaniards to Dewey rather than the triumphant Filipino revolutionaries to implement Pres. McKinley’s enchanting scheme of a “benevolent assimilation” of Filipinos under fascinating annexation.
Pres. W. McKinley’s Gambit
History had it - that Dewey was acting under the secret orders of Pres. W. McKinley, who had avid designs of owning the Philippines as a U.S. priced colony - if artfully weaned from Spain.
Filipinos and the Philippines–was ceded from Spain, and paid for by the U.S. for the paltry sum of $20 million dollars in a disrepute baratillo (garage-sale) purchase.
To describe it more succinctly, the Philippine Islands, one of the richest in natural resources and under-priced man- power in the Asian region, was taken over by the U.S. as its colony under what Filipinos perceived under concessionary terms. And under a guise of making the archipelago as a coal-refueling station of American naval battleships and later by commercial merchant vessels.
Behind such overt reason, the Philippine archipelago was actually a vital strategic cluster of islands – nested at the mouth of South China Sea. Its geographic location, virtually control the gateway to the international and regional shipping trade routes, more particularly the vital flow of fuel oil from the Middle East to the Pacific Rim ( Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, and China being carved by Caucasian colonial powers ( Great Britain, U.S., France, Netherlands, etc., in Asia. for themselves as their pet colonial turf.
Whoever command and control access to this narrow sea access – dominate the politics and economics of oil – as a nutrient to the health of any aspiring world power.
The U.S. therefore have placed a high price and vital importance of America’s presence in the Philippines – to the doorway to the oil dependent South Asia region. Thus - have (von mot) strived to conceitedly remain in the Philippines as long as possible to maintain U.S. dominance as a world power in Asia, and at the same time exploit the abundant natural and mineral resources.
An Adroit Purchase
Such adroit bargain basement purchase – was seen as an adept act of conceding the archipelago to the U.S. under at dirt cheap deal - considering that :
(1) The Philippines consisting of 7,112 islands, with a combined area of no less than 200,000 square kilometers, with then a population of 10,000,000 Filipinos – could be a garage-sale baratillo concessionary purchase of approximately. $2.00 per head of a Filipino, and approximately $0.67 cents per hectare of abundant natural and mineral resources sorely needed by the U.S. according to my former boss, Sen. Jose Wright Diokno, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans and Military Pensions.
(2) The abundant natural resources of the Philippines that could be exploited under a so-called “special relations” has been despised and criticized by Filipinos as a cruel hoax, and a grave insult to the Filipino race and sovereign ownership.
(3) And especially the exploitation of Filipinos manpower under a so-called “special relations” that was said as an artifice of deceit and double-talk to further U.S. exploitation.
Likewise - grave insult to the Filipino race. Filipino irritation over Yankee persistent presence in the country, and their lack of concern towards problems of relationship, has been more often felt more by Filipinos than by the in-planted Yankees. ( F. Golay)
Raw deal perpetrated by the U.S. politicians, but not the will of the benevolent American people continued for half a century, not to leave out the subsequent shabby treatment by he U.S. government of the Filipino-American World War II ex-servicemen of the U.S. Army has been one of the noted irritations that drive Filipinos to conclude that something putrid is behind U.S.’s avid policy.
Start of active military service of
Filipinos in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Filipinos were conscripted by Pres. F.D...Roosevelt in 1941, by invoking powers vested upon him by the Tyding-McDuffe Act of 1934, as Commander-in- Chief, by virtue and under Public Law 73-127, Section (2)(a) 48 Stat. 457, 458 (1934).
It provided that the President of the U.S. could conscript Filipinos as U.S. “nationals (born within the dominion), were U.S., citizens,” according to the opinion of U.S. Circuit Court Judge Harry Pregerson, stating that “, and were legitimate members of the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.”
Conscripted By Roosevelt
Filipinos upon conscription by Roosevelt into the U.S. Armed Forces – legally commenced their active and honorable military service as bona-fide member of the armed services of the U.S.A. like any member of the U.S. Armed services. Let there be no mistake about that !
The text of Pres. Roosevelt’s Military Order of July 26, 1941 stated as follows:
“I hereby call and order into the service of he armed Forces of the United States for the period of the existing emergency, and ace them under the command of a General Officer , U.S. Army, all organized military forces of the government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.”
Upon formal induction and incorporation of Filipino servicemen into the United States Army Forces in the Far East (SAFFE), and after taking the oath of allegiance to the United States of America, Filipinos legitimately became bona-fide members of the U.S. Armed Forces, were subjected to and under the articles of War, more particularly Sections 58 and 61, made applicable to them. Foremost of which – was desertion and absence without leave punishable by death.
By November 1941, there were reported around 200,000 Filipinos who answered the call to colors by Pres. Roosevelt, majority ( some 154,000) of them were trained by, and under the tutelage of the Command of Gen. Douglas McArthur, as Philippine Military Adviser to Commonwealth Pres. Manuel L. Quezon, and under the infirm U.S. defense plan War Plan Orange.
Filipinos were U.S. Servicemen
Their status as members of the U.S. Armed Forces, more specifically in the United States Army Forces in the Far east (USAFFE), actually made them U.S. servicemen like any other member of the U.S. Armed Forces, in the Philippines under Gen. McArthur, assisted by the then, Col. Dwight Eisenhower.
Eisenhower was an associate of my late father, Capt. Roman N. Quesada, member of the Corps of Professors, who help train military officers in the Reserve Service School (ROSS), consisting of Filipino professionals, holding ranks as Commissioned Officers..
Failure of Conveyance
However, in the case of the Filipino enlisted men (EM) in the U.S. Army - they were not clearly informed or formally advised by American officers who inducted and incorporated them into the U.S. Army – of their rights and privileges as well as benefits entitled to them as members of the U.S.. Army.
They were issued U.S. uniforms, U.S. rations, outmoded arms and ammo of (1903 World War I vintage) nevertheless, were left vague about their wages, allowances and benefits as they were assembled and driven into combat against the Imperial Japanese Forces that invaded the Philippines in 1941.
They loyally fought blindly under War Plan Orange like an infirm plant gingerly nurtured on the drawing board of the USAFFE, sorely lacking from adequate logistics to repel any invading enemy.
They were deployed in different land and sea defenses of the USAFFE in the archipelago, in 10 different military districts, commanded by trained American and Filipino U.S. commissioned officers.
Second Class U.S. Servicemen
Came – December 8, 1941 – the invasion of he Philippines by he Japanese Imperial Forces, Filipinos in the USAFFE remained bald and naked about their rightful wages, allowances and benefits, only to discover in the frontlines that the Filipino EMs were paid only half of the pay received by American comrades. They wore the same uniform, partook the same rations, commanded by U.S. General Officers, fought shoulder-to-shoulder with American comrades against just one enemy – the obdurate Japanese Military Forces, but remained as a persecuted and harassed “second class “Enlisted Men. (EMs)).
Racial and Economic Discrimination
With low morale, they rudely woke up to such invidious discrimination. Grievance was lodged to their commanders, who in turn brought it to the attention of their top commanders, not to leave -out Gen. Macarthur,
In the heat of battles in Bataan and Corregidor, efforts were made by the top echelon to request by radiogram the U.S. War Department to equalize the pay of the EMs, to make it at par with the pay of their fellow members of e USAFFE to no avail.
Filipino Soldiers were Misled
Filipino EMs contended that they were misled by their officers of the precise terms and conditions of their conscripted military service, under an implied contract that was punctiliously created by the Commander-in-Chief with the Filipino EMs of the U.S. Army, albeit, was un-enforced by the USAFFE which perpetrated a “second class” status of servicemen within the U.S. Army, and which created a big perplexity within the U.S. government.
Well-Guarded Top Secret
It was tightly kept out of the attention of the enemy, and the media, when the USAFFE was still fighting in Bataan for its existence in 1942,. Washington authorities feared the winning Japanese troops could use it as a counter-propaganda against the crumbling USAFFE having been abandoned by Washington D.C. It was a decision reached by Pres. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill to provide priority and support to their distant kin in the European Theatre. Thus – have sacrificed the USAFFE defenders in the Philippines as wretched pawns in World War II.
The USAFFE had been orphaned, critically left to its own existence for almost 4 years were treated differently and abandoned under the iron heels of the barbaric Japanese Samurais who hated America and Filipinos as their adversary.
In the soggy foxholes of Bataan and the humid laterals of Corregidor’s tunnels, a haunting doggerel was borne out of whack, which was in every lips of the distressed Filipino-American USAFFEs, ran this way:
“We’re the battling Bastards of Bataan, no papa, no mama, no Uncle Sam> No aunts, no uncles, no cousins, no nieces,. No pills, no planes, no artillery pieces; and nobody gives a damn.”
Commonwealth Pres. Manuel L. Quezon, deeply concerned about their status and welfare of his constituents, writhing in anguish, had candidly told Pres. Roosevelt and Gen. McArthur, and I quote:
“The fate of a distant cousin (referring to Europe) to be saved by America, came first, while a daughter (referring to the Philippines) is being raped in the back room.” This stunned Roosevelt and McArthur with an offense against humanity, however, was kept from the media for fear of being used by the triumphant Japanese invaders against the withering USAFFE in Bataan and Corregidor.
The War Department, however, urged Congress to correct this glaring mistake, however, while bills in Congress were being acted upon, the USAFFE was surrendered by American officers unconditionally to the obdurate Japanese in April 9, 1942 in Bataan.
Both Roosevelt and Churchill’s initial betrayal of the USAFFE since 1941, took its heavy toll against the wretched pawns in the Philippines even before the Japanese had breached he Bataan and Corregidor main defenses.
Subsequently, Congress ( in a subsequent betrayal) had let the bill lapse stating that, “the USAFFE has already surrendered, and the increase in pay of Filipino servicemen in the USAFFE was therefore useless,” which created a alibi for an unfair racial and economic discrimination, while other members of the U.S. Army enjoyed the full rate of pay, allowances and benefits..
And to add insult to the injury, the outstanding obligation of the U.S. to these aging and sickly U.S. veterans have been allowed to fend for over 50 years (since 1946) of indifference, ruthlessness and attempted escape through evasion of responsibility of compensating the deserving Filipino U.S.. Army (USAFFE) servicemen, the Recognized Guerrillas and the New Philippine Scouts. It is a constitutional obligation of the United States to these U.S. nationals legally involved by the U.S. in its war against Japan. (See: U.S.. Supreme Court Decisions on Insular cases.)
Albeit, the American people have pressed for justice and fairness – thus bills in Congress have been filed in the 80s and 90s to recognize and settle the U.S. debt and obligation to the surviving the then approx. 50,000 ( now have diminished to 29,400) Fil-Am veterans out of the reported 200,000 Filipinos who dutifully reported to military active duty n 1941, upon the Military Order of Pres. F. Roosevelt in 1941.
Meanwhile, Fil-Am U.S. Army servicemen had been winning court cases in Federal courts, and n the U.S. Supreme Court – however, barefacedly ignored by Congress that have posed as an independent and separate republic.
Pres. Abraham Lincoln once said in an enduring speech during the critical time of the Civil War, and I quote:
Excerpts in the Declaration of Independence (dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal). Lincoln set the moral tone ( that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.)
“Before the Gettysburg address, the United States was always a plural noun, afterward, we became singular. The United States, one nation, under God, indivisible,” said J. Kakim. Therefore, Congress must act accordingly, in consonance with what the Judiciary have decided, and/or have interpreted laws in a final decision. Under God, this nation cannot rise or fall divided.
By union, this nation thrives but by discord this nation crumbles. The obligation of the United States to its fighting men sent to Harms Way – can not just be swept under the rug in the scheme of political misconduct and injury. It is not the will of the American people (taxpayers) to maltreat any loyal servicemen of color, creed and origin that shed blood for freedom. and justice for all Americans.
Accumulated Huge Obligation
The omnibus unsettled obligation of the U.S. was $3.2 billion dollars that included slave soldier’s ages, arrears-in-pay, unpaid allowances, wartime-earned benefits, and other earned compensation. Only a minute part thereof has been met, while the U.S. Filipino ex-servicemen are dying quickly each day of disease and want under poverty – sans appreciable relief.
Pressure by the American public and allies that have seen such truculent treatment of Filipino-American veterans of World War II - have finally punctured and pierced the majority American’s conscience, more particularly wandering politicians who have filed some bills in Congress to end the injustice and discrimination, likewise sought to pay the constitutional debt to these hapless WW-II veterans that is now very much less in number.
In a nut-shell, out of the original 200,000 Filipinos conscripted by Pres. Roosevelt in 1941, there are only less than 30,000 survivors left ( now in the year 2003) taste the fruits of their sacrifices by way of retarded benefits that was left to dangle and droop – so there would be very much less to pay. Or to none - if they all die unpaid. These heroes of World War II had been played fools under the notorious Yankee shell game and cruel hoax, under a truculent apartheid that parallels the extermination of the Jews in the holocaust.
To let them die wanting under poverty, advanced age and disease is no less a crime against humanity, anti-veteran, un-American, according to the late Brig. General Carlos P. Romulo, who denounced the U.S. Rescission Act of 1946, in his speech at the House of Representatives in May 1946. (See: Congressional Record May 1946)
The notorious Yankee shell game of attrition ( are not in casinos but in the legislature) – ultimately found its blood stain along the aisle of both Houses of Congress and a nation that hypocritically enforces human rights all over world, but does the opposite at home. Albeit have also made a negative mark upon its fragile reputation as a dead-beat nation to its war veterans that shed blood for the flag.
It had intentionally delimited and injured rightful claimants from enjoying their wartime-earned compensation and benefits in the battlefields denied and/or reduced at a titanic price, while other members of the U.S. Armed Forces enjoyed all benefits – also entitled to Fil-Am WW-II veterans - but was with-held. (See: US Army, OMH J.A. study on the matter)
“It is more dangerous that even the innocent person should be un-warrantedly punished (through prejudice, racial and economic discrimination) without force of law - than the guilty” said someone.
The government, unlike a person has neither shame nor gratitude. And this should be part of the lesson learned from the existing shifty relationship between the Philippines and the United States, and with other nations as well.
There are certainly no permanent friends nor allies. No guarantee comes from the bottomless pit of Acheron on a Hill called Washington D.C. where there is a “parliament of whores,” according to decent Americans who detest corruption perpetuated by powerful elitist few.
Napoleon I – said, “What is more hard to bear than the reverse of fortune is the baseness, the hideous ingratitude of man.”
And man’s inhumanity to man – makes a countless thousands mourn.” (R.Burns)
The future of the world may well depend upon its citizens, who must protect the Constitution from within. “There appears a great need to restore the U.S. Constitution from the peril of what appears as a conspiracy of mad extinction of the State by entrenched corruptors.” described by Col.(Ret.) Archibald Roberts, of the Committee to Restore the Constitution, who said “ is a “mattoid syndrome” under runaway politics.”
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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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